Change the Church, or Leave the Church

David Marr is complaining that the Catholic Church is full of “bigotry, cruelty, and hatred.” Why? Because they won’t let gay people into the church hierarchy. Because they teach homosexuality is a mortal sin.

Well I have news for you: I don’t really care what the Catholic Church says on this, and if they don’t want gay people in their church, that’s fine with me too.

If you happen to be gay, why would you even want to stay in the Catholic Church or in Christianity at all? These are the people who think they know what God thinks and who, for centuries, made your lives much worse than it could be. These are the people who set up straight camps to “cure” you, who insisted AIDS was a gay disease, and who now claim they really really love you and just hate the sin.

We in the secular community, on the other hand, vow to never treat anyone or any person like that. Our morality and ethics come from humanistic values, not from holy books or clerical traditions.

We will always stand by communities that are in need.

We will defend the legitimate rights of others.

Don’t be afraid of us, we are really and truly one of the best allies you’ll ever have.

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Posted on April 3, 2011, in Humanism, Politics, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Bradford Black

    This clip is yet another example of how neither side in the debate understands the other. For the most part, I agree with what the woman in red said, although I feel she could have phrased her point with more grace and humility. Either way, I don’t think this standpoint is “unspeakably cruel”, and all of the falsities David Marr has attributed to the church in caricaturing them just pander to those who have been hurt, perpetuating misunderstanding.

    To begin to answer your question, gays (and I define this in the most basic sense as someone who has same-sex attractions), might stay in the church because the church provides satisfying answers to their questions, and caring support for the universal struggle against sin. While some answers may not be ones they like, they accept them as truth and move on. For many of them, lifelong celibacy is not a fate worse than death or unfair.

    While the secular community may provide support, gays may not simply want to be accepted, but to know the truth of their situation (what I would call the human condition). For Ex-Christian gays who were unable to find acceptance within Christian community, I feel for them. They’ve been wronged. But as a Christian, I also feel that the secular community they join, while it may have the acceptance they were deprived of, is devoid of satisfying answers concerning the problem of evil and the nature and destiny of man, both of which relate to human sexuality.

    • It is very odd that you accuse the secular community of not providing satisfying answers and not telling people the “truth of their situation”.

      I’m very sorry, but the likelihood that human beings like you or other Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. know the thoughts of a supernatural being on such details like “who you can have sex with” approaches very very closely to zero. You cannot make such incredible assumptions and expect the secular community to use such assumptions in the treatment of other people.

      It’s no wonder why religious people have been so incredibly hostile to minorities groups like the LGBTQ community; they really just hand them Biblical dogma while claiming that they are “accepting” them. What is really happening is these Christians think they have a truth that everyone else doesn’t have, and they are willing to impose their beliefs on other people’s behavior.

      More than that, they think the secular community is full of empty, meaningless philosophy; there’s apparently no inherent direction and essence for man, and probably no meaning for life.

      Sometimes I reflect on this, and I realize that there is absolutely no mystery as to why even Christians are leaving Christianity (or at least some of its dogmas) in droves. It’s no wonder why Christianity has never been and never will be a true friend of the LGBTQ community.

      • Bradford Black

        You may find my accusation odd, but I can only say the secularists’ answers are not satisfying because I myself, and same-sex attracted Christians who have not left the church, have not found them to be so. I can only speak from my own experience.

        Your disbelief in a divine will and the Bible’s trustworthiness and authority is understandable. I, too, struggled with these questions before I believed. But I do think the archaeological and historical evidences that complement the Bible also lend some credence (perhaps more than “very very close to zero”) to the claims of Judeo-Christianity.

        Again, I can’t comment on behalf of all 2.2b Christ-followers, but the religious communities I’ve participated in have not been “incredibly hostile” to minority groups including the LGBTQ. I’m not denying the existence of groups like Westboro Baptist Church, but this really is a minority. Such an attitude is supported nowhere in scripture and is certainly not Christ-like. Christ did not only teach a dogma to the world, but He loved the world, communed with sinners, ate with and touched the unclean. He accepts those who others have rejected, and wrongfully may continue to reject. Do I see the fact that he also claimed a singular truth about God, humans, and the world to be contradictory or problematic with His love and acceptance? No, I don’t. He accounted for that.

        The imposing of belief on the behaviour of non-adherents is not something I think the religious community should do or really wants to do. We have laws in this country prohibiting that. Christians are called to lead by example rather than by coercion. I really would like to know what you mean by hostility and imposition? What does true acceptance look like to you? What would it look like for Christianity, or any religion, to be a “true friend” to the LGBTQ community? To the world?

      • First of all, you really should present your archaeological/historical evidence because believe it or not, we in the secular community debate this all the time, and none of the evidence yet has really been convincing. Even if you could somehow provide such incredibly extraordinary evidence to demonstrate an incredibly extraordinary point (a resurrection, for example), you haven’t shown anything about knowledge of divine will, and absolutely nothing about the morality of your position. If I came up to you and said, “I win, my argument beats yours… Why? Because they found the city Troy (or whatever evidence),” you’d be puzzled as to how that is relevant to the question of whether we should be promoting a society that says there’s something wrong with homosexuality.

        Second, it’s very upsetting when Christians think that all we talk about is people like the Westboro Baptist Church. No, I’m talking about modern, mainstream Christianity, which says that there’s something wrong with being a homosexual, even when they provide no evidence or good reason to think so. You can cite examples of Christian gays, but they are a small minority of gay people. Also, many Christian homosexuals (and Christians) don’t actually think homosexuality is a sin.

        The “world” (a growing consensus in America, at least) is contradictory to your interpretation of the Bible because you want to hold on to an archaic text and not give any independent reason for why homosexuality should be seen as something that God disapproves of. The idea that your 100% moral God would say something that is so contrary to reason is puzzling. Worse, Christianity covers this slight-of-hand, this feeling that there’s something wrong with the homosexual that needs to be “cleaned”, by embedding it in an empty vase of truth and love.

        A Christian who really wants to accept homosexuals in accordance with all the independent evidence and facts could leave Christianity. There really isn’t a reason why being a person of another religion (or preferably, none at all) would stop you from being an accepting and moral person. The other alternative, which I think is more likely and is happening right now, is for Christians to really interpret away and start to ignore commandments against homosexuality. They do it to many other restrictions, moral imperatives, and stories, like the consumption of shellfish or the holding of slaves or Abraham’s willingness to kill his own son. As you can sense with the last post about the pastor admitting he was wrong, you can see that there’s a movement going on within Christianity, and it’s a movement away from Biblical dogmatism to secular understanding and morality.

        Finally, I find it encouraging to hear that the religious community REALLY doesn’t want to impose their beliefs on other people. This is after centuries and centuries of having done exactly that. People had to fight and die for the right to be free from religion, for the right to live in a country with a secular constitution and a separation of church and state. And then religion, after being severely reformed by science, reason, and Enlightenment, comes to us in a smiling way and says how wonderful they really are. Well we aren’t going to forgot the time when it was strong and when it really thought it had God on its side.

  2. Bradford Black

    First, you’re right in many ways. Even if Christians could reasonably prove the historicity of the Bible, which I believe has been done, it does not prove the efficacy of Judeo-Christianity’s moral position. But I feel that it is a start. Dr. Nelson Glueck has said in the NYT that until now, there has been no archaeological evidence that contradicts the biblical account. Even so, only the real-life efficacy of Christianity’s moral beliefs can in any way “prove” its position.

    I consider myself a member of “modern, mainstream Christianity”, and nothing in our belief system finds something “wrong” with having same-sex attractions, which is all being a homosexual means. Indeed, we would say this is as natural as opposite-sex attraction. No “cleansing or curing” is necessary, but change is available if the adherent wants it. No one is able to control their sexual urges, any more than they can control any other emotion, but I do think people have a choice in how they act on their emotions, and that’s all God asks us to do, to channel our sexual urges properly.

    Many people have same-sex attractions, as human sexuality is quite flexible, but with the percentage of exclusive “practising” homosexuals only being 1-2%, it will be a long time before any unique negative effects of their lifestyle will manifest. Many studies have been done, but usually with incredible bias. If the Bible’s views on sexuality don’t work in real-life, I agree, there’s no reason to bother. The Bible can’t help being archaic or dogmatic, but I find that its standard for sexual conduct, for people with and without same-sex attraction, is beneficial from my personal experience.

    I find it troubling if I rightly interpret you as saying the only way to really support gays is to leave Christianity. I feel if every Christian on planet earth followed the example of the historical Yeshua, someone who was fully accepting and fully moral, we wouldn’t have the problems of rejection and violence that you mention. I deplore the diluting of God’s commandments that you mention, and wish that Christians would again keep the biblical sabbath and follow Kashrut. I don’t see how the testing of Abraham and Israel’s holding of slaves relate to the present day though, and I respectfully feel you really don’t understand these histories/stories in light of the entire biblical narrative. I would be more than willing to explain them to you, as I find the story in its entirety to be quite beautiful.

    Finally, I can’t help but agree with you that Christians have imposed their belief on others. But when you realise the mass persecution that Christians suffered under the Roman Empire, during the Middle Ages and the Reformation, in South and East Asia, during the French Revolution, in the Ottoman Empire, Nazi Germany, indeed all over the world at every point in history, you can’t say that secularists have suffered alone. Christians have suffered the brunt of the church’s persecution. I don’t think the majority of people want to be free from religion, but rather separation of church and state, which nothing in the scriptures contradicts. If secularists want to hold a grudge against religion for its past wrongs, that’s their prerogative to “not forget”. But what you’re holding a grudge against was not and is still not true Christianity. I can say that as a Christian.

    I would really like to talk in person with you about this, because these words (mine at least) can’t convey the precision of meaning I wish them to. Our definitions of even the most basic concepts, like homosexuality, are very different, and I would appreciate more clarity.

  3. A few quick points.

    I don’t know how serious you are about it, but your assertion that “unique negative effects” may result in the future from homosexuality is incredibly disturbing. First of all, homosexuality has probably existed for hundreds of thousands of years, even before humans came along. The 1% to 2% you are talking about account for 60 to 120 MILLION people, and I suspect the number might be higher than that. Christians who have had centuries to work with, can’t cite a single credible study showing clear, negative effects of homosexuality. And you’re willing to speculate that your point will be vindicated in the future?

    Also, I think you misinterpret when you say we have grudges. We don’t have a grudge, we’re merely really really careful, and justifiable so. There’s a very good reason for why FFRF has a multi-million dollar legal fund. We never know how the religious mindset will affect how True Christians ™ vote and affect public policy. We never know what the religious will try tomorrow.

    Lastly, I was just listing some biblical examples where people struggle with INTERPRETATION. There are now many Christians who don’t take these stories literally and admit that it was immoral back then. But I think you’ve given me enough fire to play with when you say you think God wants us to keep the sabbath and eat a certain diet. Well, I’m very sorry, but there are really few Christians who think those restrictions are at all relevant in the 21st century. I’m pretty sure views of homosexuality will go in the same direction, and it is only the Christians unwilling to bend to societal progress that will be left behind.

    • Bradford Black

      I’m not particularly serious, because I haven’t yet been given reason to be. We both agree that no trustworthy studies have been conducted that clearly demonstrate strong negative effects. I have yet to feel that my life would be substantially affected by people’s freedom to live as homosexuals. Again, homosexuals are still a minority and have yet to make impositions on the way I live my life. I’m not threatened by them and I’m sure we can continue to coexist peacefully. And I certainly will not feel “vindicated” if evidence to the contrary appears. Surprisingly, Christians don’t only care about being right.

      The idea that secularists feel threatened by an imbalanced and rash religious majority seems slightly irrational to me. I don’t feel the majority of adherents are eager to control what their fellow Americans do behind closed doors, what they claim as their identity, etc, anymore than they want secularists telling them whether they can pray, worship, or wear religious ornaments and clothing. The ACLJ, like the FRFF, also has a legal department to promote religious freedoms where they are violated. Both sides feel threatened by the other, and I think it’s sad that it has become necessary to build such defenses.

      You’re very right in noticing Christianity’s growing level of compromise. Many, but certainly not most, Christians are biblically illiterate, incapable of understanding the fundamental beliefs of the faith: the nature of God, man, and the world. Several media outlets spread falsities which perpetuate religious ignorance and relativism. This is a sad reality, but it does not imply that in their compromise they are coming to a higher truth. And though you’d like to underestimate their numbers, many Christians, including myself, believe in the relevance of God’s law in the present day, at least as it pertains to Christians. This does not affect their ability to progress with society. If anything, it grounds them, as the rest of the nation shifts like a pendulum between red and blue administration after administration.

      I feel so separated from the Christians that you describe, that I don’t even want to continue to give the appearance that I’m defending them. I hope that you will grow to see the differences between religious people and between those who claim to follow Christ. Our basic beliefs may unite us, but our individual actions do not. Nevertheless, I do honestly feel you have taken the views and aims of a minority of Christians, however vocal they may be, and made them a scapegoat to rail against.

  4. Well this will probably be my last reply on this topic.

    “The idea that secularists feel threatened by an imbalanced and rash religious majority seems slightly irrational to me.”

    Well I’m sorry to say that you don’t have a good knowledge of secular issues in the United States. I can list many important court cases if you want. I can talk about DOMA and DADT and all kinds of policies that are affected by popular religious opinion, but I think you get my point.

    “Nevertheless, I do honestly feel you have taken the views and aims of a minority of Christians, however vocal they may be, and made them a scapegoat to rail against.”

    I hope I didn’t do that. In fact, I think I’ve acknowledged that Christians come in many shapes and forms — so many forms that I constantly learn about a new variation or “breed” all the time. I find it rather pointless to argue about “majority” of Christians and wander around in the premises of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

    I’m glad we agree on a lot of issues, and I always try to represent religion in a clear and honest way. However, it is really not my fault that Christians lie all over the spectrum between the ideals of secular society and the dogma of the Bible. It’s a lot to deal with, and I hope you understand.

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